Cosmic Londoners dig deep into krautrock and psych for album number two
Toy’s 2012 self-titled debut was all about blending the diverse guitar genres of folk, psych and post-punk. Early single ‘Left Myself Behind/Clock Chime’ recalled both New Order and Syd Barrett, a feat that few other contemporary psychedelic bands outside Deerhunter have achieved. ‘Join the Dots’ maintains Toy’s stance as masters of creativity and control, and expands it.
Where it really impresses is in its long blasts of expansive weirdness. Instrumental opener ‘Conductor’ sets the tone, with its 10-minute stretch of ambient keys and a simple, repetitive beat that explodes into a crescendo of screeching guitars not dissimilar to ‘Set The Control To The Heart Of The Sun’ by Pink Floyd. Elsewhere things get stranger. The title track ends similarly violently, underneath guitarist Tom Dougall singing about time travel. And album closer, ‘Fall Out Of Love’, is filled with riffs reminiscent of the second half of ‘I Am The Resurrection’ by The Stone Roses. It’s immersive stuff, and an album of this alone would be fantastic.
It’s not though, and that’s no bad thing. Much of the album adheres to familiar pop structures, but it’s not conservative. In an interview last year, bassist Maxim Barron enthused about krautrock, a genre that wasn’t as obvious on Toy’s debut as it is here. ‘You Won’t Be The Same’ sounds like ‘70s psych legends Can jamming with The Mamas & The Papas, the mechanical rhythm of ‘To A Death Unknown’ is worthy of Neu! and ‘Too Far Gone To Know’ has a touch of early Berlin-era Bowie about it.
So what’s the catch? Well Dougall relies too much on overly simplistic lyrics, and it gets a bit annoying. “I stay here endlessly/Every fear carresses me” he sings on ‘Endlessly’. ”Left to wander, far beyond the places they have known”, he goes again on ‘Left To Wander’. But this is a minor flaw in what is otherwise a strong second album from a band in the ascendancy.